Wenjing Sui / Cong Han (CHN) ©Getty Images
Reigning World Champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han of China edged European Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (OAR) for a narrow lead in the Pairs Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on Wednesday. Two-time World Champions Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford of Canada follow in third place in an excellent event that included many personal best performances.
Sui/Han skated in the penultimate flight and delivered a beautiful performance to ‘Hallelujah’, hitting a side by side triple toe, throw triple flip as well as five level-four elements to set a new personal best with 82.39 points. "I was very emotional today. Even when I was putting on my make-up, I was already crying. I just felt very nervous. But after we got on the ice and finished our routine I realized there’s all there is to it," Sui said. "We missed the last Olympics and it was a hard journey to get here too. I had surgery in the process, so I really think that everyone who is able to stand here is a hero," she said.
A few weeks before the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Sui suffered another setback as she injured her left leg in a practice accident and needed 12 stitches.
Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov (OAR) ©Getty Images
Tarasova/Morozov, who skated last, delivered a strong program to 'Piano Concerto No. 2' by Sergei Rachmaninov as well that was highlighted by a huge triple twist and throw triple loop to post a new personal best score with 81.68 points. "Actually I like skating last. You have time to rest after the warm-up and to focus”, Tarasova said.
The Pairs Short Program was a quick turn-around for the couple that competed in the team event and won the silver medal on Monday. "We put the medals away and we focused again as if we just had come to the competition," Tarasova shared. Looking forward, she added: "We will not think about the difference in points and will focus on the free skating. It is a new day."
Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (CAN) ©AFP
Duhamel/Radford, who won the gold medal in the team event, looked strong as well, putting out a clean program to “With or Without You” that included a side by side triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz. They picked up 76.82 points. “We felt better than we anticipated yesterday when we came back to train. Of course, you are on the highest high of your life and all of a sudden you are back down to reality and you need to compete again. So I am really proud how we handled the practice yesterday and how we approached today,” Duhamel shared. “I thought of it (the team gold medal) yesterday for a split second. I was stroking around the ice and thought, 'I am an Olympic champion'. Then I went, 'I want another Olympic medal, get back to work'."
World silver medalists Aljona Savchenko/ Bruno Massot (GER) are sitting in fourth on 76.59 points as he doubled the side by side Salchow while she did a triple. "These are the Olympic Games, that happen only every four years and I cannot accept that I have made this ridiculous mistake," a disappointed Massot admitted.
Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang (CHN) were flawless to ‘Swan Lake’ and are not far behind in fifth with 75.58 points followed by Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) on 75.34 points and Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA) on 74.50 points.
Ryom Tae Ok / Kim Ju Sik (PRK) ©AFP
2018 Four Continents bronze medalists Tae Ok Ryom/Ju Sik Kim (PRK) were cheered on loudly by the crowd at Gangneung Ice Arena and put out an inspiring performance to “A Day in the Life” to finish 11th with a personal best score of 69.40 points.
A total of 20 Pairs qualified for the Olympic Winter Games, however, 22 teams representing 14 ISU Members competed in the Short Program as Korea received a host country spot and the International Olympic Committee granted a wild card to Ryom/Kim (PRK), who at first had qualified a spot at Nebelhorn Trophy last September, but lost it when their National Olympic Committee failed to confirm their participation. The top 16 Pairs advanced to the Free Skating that will take place on Thursday February 15, 2018.